What I love about reading is that it takes us into the world of
imagination. That world is sad or happy depending on what
we read. While reading, certain words or characters strike a
chord and take us down memory lane and what Claudio Magris
says in his book, Danube, seems so true.
“ Events which occurred many years ago or decades ago, we feel
to be contemporary, while facts and feelings a month old seem
infinitely distant and erased forever. Time thins out, lengthens,
contracts, forms all but tangible clots or dissolves like fog-banks
This seems true when I read what my father writes about
“When we were small taking oil-bath was a
very important part of our lives. My mother used
to insist that we take an oil-bath at least once a week.
We rubbed coconut oil on our body and head and
rested for some time in the bathroom. Then,
mother came and poured hot water on our body.
Taking a powder called seege-hudi in Kannada,
she rubbed the body with it and poured some hot
water to remove the oil. As rubbing this directly on
the hair is painful, she used a jelly-like substance
called gompu and rubbed the head with it and seege-hudi.
All the oil on the body was gone! That was oil-bath.
At Hospet, where I spent my childhood, taking oil-bath
was difficult as soft water has to be obtained from outside.
So,we rarely had weekly oil-bath. But, mother insisted
that we have one at least once a month.
When I went to Chennai for my higher studies I was
surprised to find in Loyola College hostel, most of
the students, specially Tamilians, wanted to take oil
bath once a week, specially on holidays. Our hostel
had special bathrooms where hot water was provided.
On payment of some money, bath-oil and seege-hudi
were given. They did not have the custom of using gompu.
On Sundays, there was a lot of rush and one had
to wait for some time.
I had given up taking oil-bath after my
mother passed away. My Tamil friends insisted
on having this at least once a week. They
were surprised that we did not have this custom.
So, they told us the benefits we get from an
oil bath and advised me to take one at least once
a month. But it was only an advice and I did not
take it seriously.”
( This photo is of my father and his mother, it was
taken in 1940. She passed away in 1943, when he was only 12.)